Today wasn't a good day for writing for me--my hay fever (and the medicine I take for it!) had me lethargic and foggy-brained all day. I did some reading in Becoming Taiwanese as well as a bit of Faye Yuan Kleeman's Under an Imperial Sun: Japanese Colonial Literature of Taiwan and the South. Chapter 6 of her book covers language policy in Japan and colonial Taiwan. Some of this is also covered in Eika Tai's 1999 article, "Kokugo and Colonial Education in Taiwan." Gareth Price also discusses some similar points in his book, Language, Society, and the State: From Colonization to Globalization in Taiwan. I'm curious about what they have to say about how proficient Taiwanese were in the Japanese language by the end of the Japanese colonial period.
Price, citing A-chin Hsiau, says that by 1944, 80% of Taiwanese were proficient in Japanese. As he notes, though, "this must be taken with some caution; the Japanese would have had political motives for inflating the extent of assimilation to convince both themselves and their Taiwanese subjects of its success and, as we shall see, colonial authorities constructed political and socio-economic incentives for residents to claim Japanese proficiency" (p. 126). Kleeman says that by 1941, 57% of Taiwanese "could comprehend Japanese" (p. 142). Tai also cites the 57% number and notes, as Kleeman does, that this number doesn't mean that these people were fluent or proficient in Japanese. As Tai notes, for instance, "in the streets of Taiwanese cities, where Japanese needed to communicate with local Taiwanese who spoke little Japanese, these two groups of people together invented a pidgin Japanese in which Japanese words were put together in a Taiwanese order" (p. 129). Kleeman also gives examples of how the reality of Japanese usage differed from the image provided by that 57% number.
Anyway, back to work on my paper tomorrow, assuming my allergies don't knock me out again.